He is subscribed to a library that caters for all night readings. From 6:00pm through to the next morning. Last week he didn’t miss a day. She too didn’t. That he didn’t know her name does not mean he would deny she is cute – tall, chocolate skined, and shaped like he has always desired.
But she wouldn’t spare a time off books, she comes to the read room, heavy with big books- anatomy, physiology, biochemistry etc- that gave her away as a medical student.
Diligence and consistency have earned her a particular spot at the library, and as she sits on her seat, so does her attention sit on her books, up until twelve midnight – that’s her leave time.
she stones the book at the back of her car and zooms off. He doesn’t even know where she lives or who she lives with- parents, lover or alone. “Where does she zoom to?” “How far?” “How near?” “This un-holy hour?”
A lot about her isn’t certain but he was certain she is still single.
There are certain things about some strangers you just know! She isn’t married, he assured himself again.
In the first place, using the library was necessary because he has got lots of writings to do, more paper houses wants him to maintain space in their sheets and now after many years of foot-dragging he has started to blog.
He had to feed his blog weekly and for him quality was without compromise.
His work load was heavy, but she too wasn’t easy.
So library wasn’t just for books anymore, he never really wrote anything until she comes. Here she is, then he begins to write, for every period he throws a stare at her; then he writes again, for every comma, a stare; again he writes, for any question mark, he questions himself, ‘but how can I domesticate her?’
His writing moved slower like a car stuck in Port Harcourt hold-up, his story lines changed, his theme and his diction didn’t escape but in all, his work remained coherent, logical and a vast beauty of words; for he was a good writer.
Few words spelt wrongly, few disagreements between subjects and verbs, then one or two misplaced tenses but they were what a good editor would be happy to fix.
Always he thinks himself lucky but now he wasn’t quite sure what was happening, the other day he had come early enough to beat the older lady, who almost usually shared seat with her in the library’s wooden two seater sofa, to her seat. He did, but she came, only to sit somewhere else.
He took a deep breath and beneath it he cursed her mother, after a while, he added her father, her brother- if she had any- and so on until it was twelve midnight when she stood up to leave. ‘Rubbish!’ he said.
The day after that he had come to the library consoled, he walked direct to her seat, and this time he was optimistic it would work out. As he walked briskly, heading straight for her seat, he nodded his head in agreement to the thoughts of his being a sharp man playing inside his head. He was early, neither she nor the older lady had come, he emptied his writing materials on top the desk, just when he was to begin writing he thought he should pray, few words into the ears of God would not be too bad an idea. He prayed most time before beginning to write, it wasn’t something he was strict about anyway, but this time, he has been moved to by the spirit. He said his usual words to God but this time he added a new prayer point.
“Dear Lord, please do not let anyone else but her, sit here. This seat is hers. God you know what I mean, God you know who I talk of- You are the all knowing God. God please and please… Amen.”
That day, she didn’t come. The day after that day, she didn’t show up, and then he had malaria.
He fell sick and took a day off. It was a day to recover. ‘What is wrong with me?’ He asked himself. ‘This girl doesn’t even know me,’ he informed himself. ‘I’ll never spare a strand of my thought thinking of her again’, he promised himself. ‘After all, she isn’t finer than Ebere, Jane by all standards is cuter, not to talk of Angela, it was over for me and her’, he swore.
Then today, he is seated in the library, far from her spot and submerged deep into his writings- engrossed and enraptured.
“Please, can I join you?”
He pulled his head up, there she was, requesting via a laboratory refined voice to join him in the sofa. He didn’t believe it, but he acted like it was real, too stunned to talk- still sitting, he raised his legs up, shifted them side way, making way for her to pass to the empty space in the sofa. Now, they were sitting together, quietly he sniffed her cologne, it filled his heart and made him breath fast.
He stops writing, for he is too busy stealing glances at her. When he had stolen enough, he swallowed his words- Ebere no reach. Jane, who dash monkey! Angela, na work she dey learn. Gosh! dis girl make brain die!!!
But then! ‘What do I do?’ He asked himself, he agreed this was an opportunity he shouldn’t let slip off his hands. He really needs to think out something, otherwise what answer would he give to Emeka when he tells him that, that girl, yes that one, sat by him today at the library.
Then Emeka in his usual way would bulge his eyes, grin from ear to ear- that’s how he demonstrates when something both surprised and excited him at the same time- then he would pause to ask; so how far, wetin come happen- expecting an immediate answer. He didn’t have the muscle to stand Emeka’s scorn; he bent his head over his books pretending to read, while in real, he was thinking of a way out, trying hard to hatch out a plan. She, was busy reading and making notes; sometimes she consulted another book that sheltered all the diagrams of the human internal organs. As at the last time he spied on her, it was on page 33, that page had the diagram of the liver, she studied it keenly, noting the labeled parts and he thought how small his liver was. He imagined Emeka asking him- ‘ur LIVER fail you?’ ‘My liver no go fail me’, he assured himself in his head, as he thought seriously for a way out. He thought and thought and thought until he began fantasizing; he fantasized her pregnant for him, walking the sitting room with protruded stomach, her cooking for him, he fantasized everything possible between a straight man and a woman and soon he was lost in the world of fantasy.
Then suddenly, like a collapsing lagos high-rise building, he felt a grip, an embrace, so firm and tight that her breast burst his ruptured emotions. She exclaims in short but pricking voices; oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God, as she grips him even tighter.
It is 10:30pm and the library quiet and serene as usual, other library users turned to find out what had gone wrong, he just enjoyed the embrace.
It was a wall gecko, from the heavens, it had landed on top of her book injuring her concentration and, that grip and embrace was her response.
Ordinarily, he hated wall geckos; they irritated him, but not now, employing his left fingers he raked the gecko off and still held onto the embrace with his right hand. Danger was gone and she eased herself off him, their eyes met and they laughed simultaneously, still holding hands. ‘Why are you laughing?’ she asked in her smiles, he muttered something and she laughed again, even harder, he smiled and they chatted along. She tells him how much she dislikes the sight of geckos, he nodded in agreement but deep in his heart he blessed the gecko, their family and neighbors- harbingers of love he calls them till date.
And that beginning became the start of a new beginning for them. He rolled his tongue, ‘my liver reach pass that one wey dey that page 33’, he agreed.